3 mins read

Have you ever asked yourself, how you can judge ideas on their degree of “newness” or “originality”? With so many people on the planet, you might be discouraged to pursue any new idea because it might already exists. Yet there are many new ideas that change the world.

Most of the time, we do incremental improvements. Even big innovations are usually broken down into tiny steps, so they can look as incremental improvements as well.

However in order to find the direction for renewing an organization you will need something bigger, something more fundamental. A different quality. And you would probably agree, a twist of newness would be helpful to unlock new value generation. But what does newness mean? What would you look for, if you would try to judge the newness or originality of an idea?

First of all, it should be relevant to your market, your audience. It should enhance the value proposition. If you find a good idea a different market go ahead copy and adapt it to the needs of your customers.

Where are truly new Ideas coming from?

A wealth of ideas arise when you are able to bridge a paradox. If you are able to reconcile opposing or even contradicting positions, than you create something new that leads to a new quality of value creation.

For instance, the hotel chain MotelOne in Germany did just that. After testing and refining with a certain type of hotel offerings they discovered a possibility to combine design with budget. There were affordable hotels. There were pricy design or art hotels. But the combination was new and desired. So they invested in new buildings, removing conference and breakfast rooms, standardizing the room size. They equipped the rooms and the lobby with furniture from designers. The hotels were placed in the center of the cities punctuated with a well designed branding concept. After 18 years of existence they grew the revenue from zero to 400’0 Euros in a market that is saturated and full of competition. So the paradox they successfully bridged was budget and design to generate a unique and desired value curve for customers *).

Which steps can you take to induce newness into ideas?

1: Identify long-held core beliefs or standards about how your organization or your industry is creating value.

In the example, the core belief of the industry was that you can either have budget (low cost) or design (high cost). The combination of both is not viable.

2: Up to this point, what is supporting the core belief or standard? What business logic is behind that core belief or standard?

For hotel case, the logic comes from classic segmentation. For a budget offering drive down all costs factors. For design hotels invest in facilities and amenities to stand out.

3: Ask yourself, how could you reconcile the opposing points in value creation? How could you flip the underlying assumptions of your industry upside-down?

In the above case they thought, they could consequently redesign the footprint of buildings and use scale for negotiating the prices for the fitments of the standardized rooms.

4: Ask yourself, what if the opposite of the current belief/standard is true? How should your business model look like, if you work with a new hypothesis?

In conclusion: When evaluating your ideas and you discover a refreshing look on long-held beliefs, standards and mechanism of your industry, you know, that you are heading into the right direction towards something truly new.


This is part three of the five elements of organizational renewal comprising identity, reality, creativity, clarity and superiority.

The next post is about clarity. If you are interested, sign up for the newsletter.


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